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Writing for the Next Generation of Guidebooks

Writing for the Next Generation of Guidebooks

The classic print travel guidebook is going the way of the dinosaur. But then there’s Wildsam… Wildsam is the hipster’s take on the contemporary guide. Instead of a laundry list of bland reviews, it imparts a sense of place through historical documents, interviews with unusual locals, hand-drawn illustrations, and eccentric lists. I have always admired this series for their creativity and irreverence. (And optimism!)

So I was delighted when an editor reached out to me to see if I would contribute an essay to their new Wildsam Desert Southwest Field Guide. She gave me 2,000-4,000 words and carte blanche to write, more or less, about whatever I wanted. (Dream assignment!) The result is a musing on the importance of being willing to open yourself up to discomfort in order to understand the desert, a story drawing on years of experience exploring these landscapes. Check it out. You’ll also find essays by authors Hampton Sides and Philip Connors as well as work by Lucky Peach editor Chris Cohen and the wonderful freelancer Jen Murphy. I’m very happy to be in such good company.